Evidence That Doesn't Demand a Verdict
Evidence That Doesn't Demand a Verdict
Josh McDowell, in his books entitled _Evidence_That_Demands_a
Verdict_, makes a big deal of the value of testimony within the New
Testament in establishing the truth of the message. Other writers have
cited courtroom examples of how testimony is used. Testimony, in the
absence of hard evidence, is sometimes all a jury has to go on.
But how did the people in the New Testament look upon testimony? Did
they think it a valid foundation upon which to base their eternal
destinies? Or did they tend to throw out unfounded assertions and await
The people of Athens rejected the testimony of Paul concerning
Jesus's resurrection from the dead ([ref001]Acts 17:32). Paul
had given them no hard, tangible evidence--just words. Paul, as Saul,
rejected the testimony and visions of the martyr Stephen ([ref002]Acts 7:56-60, [ref003]8:1-3).
Stephen had only his words to offer Paul, and Paul found that kind of
evidence to be unacceptable.
The Apostle Thomas, who had been with his fellow apostles for several
years, who knew them on a daily basis, knew enough not to trust them any
farther than he could throw them! When the other 10 apostles told Thomas
that Jesus had been raised from the dead, he counted their personal
eyewitness testimony to be insufficient evidence. In other words, he
thought they were lying. He demanded hard evidence, and refused to trust
mere testimony ([ref004]John 20:24-25).
And all eleven apostles flatly rejected as absurd the testimony of
the women who claimed to have spoken to angels at the tomb concerning the
resurrection of Jesus. The eyewitness accounts of the several women
"appeared as nonsense," and the apostles refused to believe
without hard, tangible evidence ([ref005]Luke 24:9-11).
Who are we to break with Bible tradition and example? We should not
be so gullible as to believe outlandish, incredible tales, 2000 years
removed and filtered through countless unknown editors--tales that were
rejected by the very people who knew the honesty and trustworthiness of
the witnesses! Thomas rejected mere words and demanded hard evidence.
The 11 apostles rejected the mere words of women and demanded hard
evidence. Jesus, according to the Bible, even offered hard evidence, as
found in [ref006]Luke
See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; touch me and
see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.
And again, Jesus is reported to have said to Thomas in [ref007]John 20:37,
"Reach here your finger, and see my hands; and reach here your hand,
and put it into my side; and be not unbelieving, but believing."
There is no reason we should settle for anything less. They refused
to believe without hard evidence, and even Jesus, if the account is true,
was sympathetic to their demands for real evidence. Jerusalem refused to
trust Jesus, the apostles didn't trust each other or their female friends,
and Saul (Paul) refused to trust what any Christian said. Maybe that
should tell us something about the quality of the witnesses!
It seems to me as if modern Christians are asking us to swallow a
stew without thinking--a leftover stew that's 2000 years stale, that has
gone by dozens of unknown cooks, each throwing in their own concoctions.
We are being asked to swallow, whole, stale evidence, evidence that when
fresh was rejected by Saul/Paul, spit out by Thomas, and vomited up by the
rest of the apostles! Thomas rejected the fresh testimony of his best
friends! And we are to believe the same testimony, now 2000 years stale,
from people that to us are total strangers??? NO!!!
We're not talking about how history is determined. "Well, all
we have are books that say George Washington existed," Bible
believers will argue. "It's the same with Jesus." Oh, no, it
isn't! Washington's best friends never denied he was president or
whatever. Jesus's friends did deny that he had risen from the dead. And
Washington never claimed to be a god! Jesus did. And Washington never
asked that you spend your whole life worshiping him or even become a
martyr and die for your belief in his godhood. Jesus did. And Washington
never claimed to walk on water. He used a boat to cross the Delaware! And,
most important, Washington doesn't have millions of deluded fanatics out
trying to convince you that he rose from the dead, can live in your heart,
or forgive you of your "sins." Failure to believe in
Washington just means you're stupid. But failure to believe in Jesus,
according to the Christians, means you are doomed to eternal hell fire!
Nobody asked you to die for Washington, but they'll ask you to die for
Jesus. A BIG difference!
I stand upon the same principles as those freethinkers in the New
Testament, rejecting mere testimony of such UNbelievable fairy tales.
Fantastic claims require extraordinary evidences. Be like the apostles:
don't be swayed by clever sermons or someone's testimony. Demand a
personal, in-the-flesh visit from this all-powerful god of the universe.
Christians say that he is everywhere--even peeping over your shoulder as
you read this. Ask! Demand a visit. Don't settle for anything less.
Know Evidence, Know Belief
NO EVIDENCE, NO BELIEF!!!
(Mark Smith, P. O. Box 3065-192, Garden Grove, CA 92642.)